FLD(LOCAL) - STUDENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES: STUDENT COMPLAINTS

Guiding Principles

Informal Process

The College District encourages students to discuss their concerns with the appropriate instructor or other campus administrator who has the authority to address the concerns.

Concerns should be expressed as soon as possible to allow early resolution at the lowest possible administrative level.

Informal resolution shall be encouraged but shall not extend any deadlines in this policy, except by mutual written consent.

Formal Process

A student may initiate the formal process described below by timely filing a written complaint form.

Even after initiating the formal complaint process, students are encouraged to seek informal resolution of their concerns. A student whose concerns are resolved may withdraw a formal complaint at any time.

The process described in this policy shall not be construed to create new or additional rights beyond those granted by law or Board policy, nor to require a full evidentiary hearing or "mini-trial" at any level.

Freedom from Retaliation

Neither the Board nor any College District employee shall unlawfully retaliate against any student for bringing a concern or complaint.

Notice to Students

The College District shall inform students of this policy through appropriate College District publications.

Complaints

In this policy, the terms "complaint" and "grievance" shall have the same meaning.

Other Complaint Processes

Student complaints shall be filed in accordance with this policy, except as required by the policies listed below. Some of these policies require appeals to be submitted in accordance with FLD after the relevant complaint process:

  1. Complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on race, color, sex, gender, national origin, disability, age, or religion. [See FFDA and FFDB]
  2. Complaints concerning retaliation relating to discrimination and harassment. [See FFDA and FFDB]
  3. Complaints concerning disciplinary decisions. [See FMA]
  4. Complaints concerning a commissioned peace officer who is an employee of the College District. [See CHA]
  5. Complaints concerning the withdrawal of consent to remain on campus. [See GDA]

General Provisions

Filing

Complaint forms and appeal notices may be filed by hand-delivery, electronic communication, including email and fax, or U.S. Mail. Hand-delivered filings shall be timely filed if received by the appropriate administrator or designee by the close of business on the deadline. Filings submitted by electronic communication shall be timely filed if they are received by the close of business on the deadline, as indicated by the date/time shown on the electronic communication. Mail filings shall be timely filed if they are postmarked by U.S. Mail on or before the deadline and received by the appropriate administrator or designated representative no more than three days after the deadline.

Scheduling Conferences

The College District shall make reasonable attempts to schedule conferences at a mutually agreeable time. If a student fails to appear at a scheduled conference, the College District may hold the conference and issue a decision in the student's absence.

Response

At Levels One, Two, and Three, "response" shall mean a written communication to the student from the appropriate administrator. Responses may be hand-delivered, sent by electronic communication to the student's email address of record, or sent by U.S. Mail to the student's mailing address of record. Mailed responses shall be timely if they are postmarked by U.S. Mail on or before the deadline.

Days

"Days" shall mean College District business days. In calculating timelines under this policy, the day a document is filed is "day zero." The following day is "day one."

Representative

"Representative" shall mean any person who or organization that is designated by the student to represent the student in the complaint process.

The student may designate a representative through written notice to the College District at any level of this process. If the student designates a representative with fewer than three days' notice to the College District before a scheduled conference or hearing, the College District may reschedule the conference or hearing to a later date, if desired, in order to include the College District's counsel. The College District may be represented by counsel at any level of the process.

Consolidating Complaints

Complaints arising out of an event or a series of related events shall be addressed in one complaint. A student shall not file separate or serial complaints arising from any event or series of events that have been or could have been addressed in a previous complaint.

Untimely Filings

All time limits shall be strictly followed unless modified by mutual written consent.

If a complaint form or appeal notice is not timely filed, the complaint may be dismissed, on written notice to the student, at any point during the complaint process. The student may appeal the dismissal by seeking review in writing within ten days from the date of the written dismissal notice, starting at the level at which the complaint was dismissed. Such appeal shall be limited to the issue of timeliness.

Costs Incurred

Each party shall pay its own costs incurred in the course of the complaint.

Complaint and Appeal Forms

Complaints and appeals under this policy shall be submitted in writing on a form provided by the College District.

Copies of any documents that support the complaint should be attached to the complaint form. If the student does not have copies of these documents, copies may be presented at the Level One conference. After the Level One conference, no new documents may be submitted by the student unless the student did not know the documents existed before the Level One conference.

A complaint or appeal form that is incomplete in any material aspect may be dismissed but may be refiled with all the required information if the refiling is within the designated time for filing.

Level One

Complaint forms must be filed:

  1. Within 15 days of the date the student first knew, or with reasonable diligence should have known, of the decision or action giving rise to the complaint or grievance; and
  2. With the lowest level administrator who has the authority to remedy the alleged problem.

In most circumstances, students shall file Level One complaints with the department chairperson or student services unit coordinator. If the only administrator who has authority to remedy the alleged problem is the Level Two or Level Three administrator, the complaint may begin at Level Two or Level Three, respectively, following the procedure, including deadlines, for filing the complaint form at Level One.

If the complaint is not filed with the appropriate administrator, the receiving administrator must note the date and time the complaint form was received and immediately forward the complaint form to the appropriate administrator.

The appropriate administrator shall investigate as necessary and schedule a conference with the student within ten days after receipt of the written complaint. The administrator may set reasonable time limits for the conference.

Absent extenuating circumstances, the administrator shall provide the student a written response within ten days following the conference. The written response shall set forth the basis of the decision. In reaching a decision, the administrator may consider information provided at the Level One conference and any relevant documents or information the administrator believes will help resolve the complaint.

Level Two

If the student did not receive the relief requested at Level One or if the time for a response has expired, the student may request a conference with the academic dean or executive director of student life and civility to appeal the Level One decision.

The appeal notice must be filed in writing, on a form provided by the College District, within ten days of the date of the written Level One response or, if no response was received, within ten days of the Level One response deadline.

After receiving notice of the appeal, the Level One administrator shall prepare and forward a record of the Level One complaint to the Level Two administrator. The student may request a copy of the Level One record.

The Level One record shall include:

  1. The original complaint form and any attachments.
  2. All other documents submitted by the student at Level One.
  3. The written response issued at Level One and any attachments.
  4. All other documents relied upon by the Level One administrator in reaching the Level One decision.

The Level Two administrator shall schedule a conference within ten days after the appeal notice is filed. The conference shall be limited to the issues and documents considered at Level One. At the conference, the student may provide information concerning any documents or information relied on by the administration for the Level One decision. The Level Two administrator may set reasonable time limits for the conference.

The Level Two administrator shall provide the student a written response within ten days following the conference. The written response shall set forth the basis of the decision. In reaching a decision, the Level Two administrator may consider the Level One record, information provided at the Level Two conference, and any other relevant documents or information the Level Two administrator believes will help resolve the complaint.

Recordings of the Level One and Level Two conferences, if any, shall be maintained with the Level One and Level Two records.

Level Three

If the student did not receive the relief requested at Level Two, the student may request a conference with the vice president within five days after the written response by the appropriate academic dean or executive director of student life and civility. The vice president shall review the grievance for matters of policy and procedure only.

Texas Southmost College

FLD(LOCAL)-X

LDU 2019.04

DATE ISSUED: 7/17/2019